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The Sports Report: Clippers make a few roster moves

Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah
(Getty Images)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: There was no possible way for Ivica Zubac to know how the Clippers will play in the upcoming season after one day of training camp.

By the time Zubac arrived for his workout Tuesday, only a few other teammates were allowed in the practice facility at the same time because of the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols. Not to mention the roster was still hours from being finalized. In a flurry of moves late Tuesday, the Clippers waived backup center Joakim Noah, whose $2.7-million salary would have been guaranteed in three weeks, to make room for the additions of backup point guard Reggie Jackson and veteran wing Nicolas Batum.

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Batum’s signing became official hours after he cleared waivers. The team also signed wing Rayjon Tucker to a training camp contract. The first group practice isn’t expected until Sunday, once several days of individual workouts required by the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols finish, and even that timeline assumes all coronavirus results return negative.

But Zubac isn’t totally disconnected from his teammates, of course. He remains a member of the players-only group chat. And he, like most of the roster, remembers the one-two punch felt this fall when the Clippers’ second-round collapse was followed by watching his former team, the Lakers, claim the NBA championship.

If he cannot yet know how the Clippers will collectively play, he spoke with a clear understanding of how they feel.

“Some people don’t even put us in the conversation about contending for a championship and we like that,” Zubac said. “We like all that negative talk and everything that’s around us. We like that challenge. We want to prove that we’re that team, that we can do it. I think that’s going to be the mood all season. Guys are ready, guys been working out since we were out of the bubble and guys are as motivated as ever.”

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The Lakers and Dallas Mavericks will try to repeat (and maybe top) an epic game from last season on Christmas night, ESPN reports.

The Lakers and the Mavericks are part of the reported slate of Christmas games, many of which will air on ESPN, with the Clippers travelling to Denver for a rematch with the Nuggets.

New Orleans will play at Miami, followed by Golden State at Milwaukee and Brooklyn and Boston before the Lakers take the court at Staples Center at 5 p.m. The Clippers and Nuggets, last year’s Western Conference semifinal shocker, will close the night at 7:30 PT.

The Lakers and Mavericks played an epic game on Nov. 1, 2019 with LeBron James and Luka Doncic recording triple-doubles in a 119-110 Lakers victory thanks to a Danny Green three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

The full NBA schedule has yet to be released.

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USC MEN’S BASKETBALL

Drew Peterson scored 19 points, brothers Evan Mobley and Isaiah Mobley each had a double-double, and USC beat Brigham Young 79-53 on Tuesday in the first game of the Roman Legends Classic in Uncasville, Conn.

USC trailed 18-17 before scoring 14 of the next 16 points, including a 10-0 run to close the half, for a 31-20 lead. Peterson, a Rice transfer, scored 13 points in the half. BYU made just one of its final 19 shots of the half and finished 9 of 37 (24.3%), including 2 of 16 from 3-point range.

Peterson made two 3-pointers in the opening six minutes of the second half, during an 18-5 run, as USC built a 24-point lead.

Freshman forward Evan Mobley had 17 points and 11 rebounds for his first collegiate double-double and Isaiah Mobley added 11 points and 11 boards for USC (3-0). Tahj Eaddy, a grad transfer from Southeast Missouri State, chipped in with 16 points.

DODGERS

Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda has been moved out of intensive care, although he remains hospitalized in Southern California.

Dodgers spokesman Steve Brener said Tuesday that the team’s 93-year-old former manager is doing rehab at the hospital in Orange County. Lasorda has been hospitalized since Nov. 8, although the team didn’t make it public until a week later.

RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: In the aftermath of incidents across the country that spurred calls for social-justice initiatives, Rams players and coaches spoke during the summer and fall of mobilizing for change.

On Tuesday, the team announced that players had contributed $750,000 to 25 Southern California nonprofits focused on social justice.

Defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day said the aim was to “make impactful change in the L.A. community” with the hope that other teams in the NFL and other pro sports would do the same.

“This is a very positive step forward but there’s still a lot more work to be done,” Joseph-Day said during a videoconference with reporters. “That’s the headspace that’s we’re all in…. We want to keep on building on that and keep on improving and keep on trying to find new ways to help the community.”

DUCKS

Helene Elliott on the Ducks: Citing continued adverse business conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ducks on Tuesday announced furloughs for employees of the hockey team and employees of other businesses owned and/or operated by club owners Henry and Susan Samueli.

The furloughs will affect less than 15% of the full-time employees across the Ducks, Anaheim Arena Management, ocV!BE, The Rinks and H&S Ventures. Those furloughed will get a discretionary payment and will retain their medical benefits.

“The enormous social, emotional and financial impacts of the coronavirus have impacted us all, and the sports and entertainment industry continues to be severely affected,” the organization said in a statement released by the Ducks.

“Due to the ongoing uncertainty and its unknown duration, today we felt it necessary to make a number of very difficult staffing decisions across our business units. For nearly three decades, we have been proud to serve as a symbol of excellence with our employees and players actively taking the role of standard-bearers in the industry, and it’s what makes a day like today so truly heartbreaking. An overwhelming majority of today’s reductions were in the form of furloughs, and so it is with expectant anticipation that upon moving beyond this terrible pandemic we will have the opportunity to welcome back most of our highly valued team members.”

LAFC

Kevin Baxter on LAFC: LAFC picked up the contract option Tuesday on forward Carlos Vela, the 2019 most valuable player, but declined options on five others, including forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, the 2020 comeback player of the year.

Vela, 31, broke the MLS record with 34 goals last year, leading LAFC to a Supporters’ Shield. But he played just seven games this year, sitting out the MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando, then tearing ligaments in his left knee in his first game back.

Terms of the contract were not released but Vela, a designated player, was guaranteed $6.3 million in each of his first two seasons, making him one of the five best-paid players in MLS.

The team also exercised options on goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega and forward Danny Musovski, leaving it with 20 players under contract for next year.

In addition to Wright-Phillips, the team declined contract options on goalkeeper Phillip Ejimadu, forward Adrien Perez and defenders Jesús Murillo and Andy Najar. The contract for defender Mohamed El-Munir and the loan agreement for defender Mark Segbers will expire at the end of the year.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1907 — Tommy Burns defends his world heavyweight title by knocking out Gunner Moir in the 10th round at London.

1944 — Ohio State quarterback Leslie Horvath wins the Heisman Trophy.

1947 — Notre Dame quarterback Johnny Lujack wins the Heisman Trophy.

1952 — Oklahoma halfback Billy Vessels is named the Heisman Trophy winner.

1958 — Army back Pete Dawkins is named the Heisman Trophy winner.

1977 — Veterinarian Mark Gerard is indicted in a horse-switching scandal. Cinzano, a purportedly dead 4-year-old champion colt, won a race on Sept. 23 at Belmont Park, under the name of Lebon, a 57-1 long shot.

1993 — The Houston Rockets tie the NBA record for the best start to a season, improving to 15-0 with a 94-85 victory over the New York Knicks. The Rockets matched the start of the 1948-49 Washington Capitols.

1995 — Notre Dame advances to the NCAA women’s soccer championship by becoming the first team to beat 13-time champion North Carolina in the national semifinals. The lone score comes when Tar Heels forward Cindy Parlow accidentally heads a ball into her own net.

2002 — Oakland’s Tim Brown and Jerry Rice take turns rewriting the NFL record book in a 26-20 win over the New York Jets. Brown becomes the third player with 1,000 receptions and the third with 14,000 yards receiving. Rich Gannon ties an NFL record with his ninth 300-yard passing game of the season. On the very next play after Brown’s 1,000th catch, Rice scores on a 26-yard catch, giving Oakland a 13-10 lead. It’s Rice’s record 192nd TD catch and puts him over 1,000 yards receiving for a record 14th season.

2009 — The New Jersey Nets are pounded into NBA infamy, falling 117-101 to the Dallas Mavericks for their 18th straight loss to start the season. The Nets pass the 1988-89 Miami Heat and 1999 Los Angeles Clippers, who both dropped their first 17 games.

2015 — Stephen Curry scores 40 points in three quarters and the Golden State Warriors defeat the Charlotte Hornets 116-99 to extend the best start in NBA history to 20-0. On a night when the Hornets honor Curry’s father, Dell, the franchise’s career scoring leader, it’s his oldest son who steals the spotlight by hitting 14 of 18 shots from the field and going 8 for 11 from 3-point range. Stephen Curry scored 28 points in the pivotal third quarter, including his team’s final 24.

2017 — McKenzie Milton of UCF passes for 494 yards and five TDs to help the 12th-ranked Knights win the American Athletic Conference title with a 62-55 victory over No. 16 Memphis in double overtime. The 117 points between UCF and Memphis sets a record for an FBS conference championship game.

And finally

Every walk-off win from the 2020 MLB season. Watch them here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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